It’s two weeks into NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I’ll be honest. I’m behind. It doesn’t bother me though. I’m not writing to try and get my work published, creative writing of the novel kind is just a secondary enjoyment of mine. I’m an informer mostly, which is why blogging has caught my fancy. If I get behind on my blog, you can bet I’ll have some words to say to myself. However, today’s post isn’t about my blogging, actually, it’s not entirely about writing either.
Are you a pantser or a planner?
This is a common discussion topic that goes around the writing community. Well, the NaNoWriMo community at least. I went ahead and defined these words for you so you know how I’m using them.
Pantser: Someone who writes a creative work without any planning. They are said to be flying by the seat of their pants.
Planner: Someone who plans out their creative work, whether it’s a general outline of what’s going to happen, or a highly detailed outline including every turning point, plot twist and character trait.
I’ve always identified as a pantser. I think I just love the idea of letting my mind wander and take me on fantastic journeys into the imagination. This year, I spent the entire first week pantsing my novel. I did quite well too! Well, not enough to reach official NaNoWriMo winning standards, but for me it was a decent job.
This past week I’ve barely written a word in my novel. Every time I sat down and looked at my novel, I just didn’t have the motivation in me to write. Like I said, I’m okay with that. I know for some people they’ll tell me to write anyway! For me, NaNoWriMo is a fun challenge, not one I’m determined to win every year. It’s a chance for me to exercise a different writing muscle and I enjoy it every time, no matter how far I get. Yet I still kept trying to get something down on paper this week. My characters just froze. No one wanted to move anywhere, do anything, or talk about anything.
Yesterday I decided it was time to give planning a chance. So, I started entering some different chapter or scene ideas. Out of the blue I came up with a great prologue, so I started writing in the notes to it with every intention of filling in the details of the scene either when I edit or when I feel like getting into a writing flow again. It was fantastic! I loved every word that was coming out. So, while I may not have increased my word count a great deal, I did come up with some options of where I want the novel to go, and I’m giving my characters some time to either accept their fate or start whispering some brilliant ideas in my ear.
So how is this post not about writing? Well, it’s not entirely about writing, this was just the introduction to the main idea. I’ve been taking a look at my own personal life and I’ve discovered that I have a clumsy balance of pantsing and planning in everything I do, not just my writing.
Every day I wake up I have no idea if I’m going to be more motivated by seeing where the day will lead me, or if my productivity will be increased by planning, such as using a to do list. Obviously my planning helps me out with events outside the house, such as appointments, play dates, classes, etc. However, we’ve had some great fun when pantsing at life too. Remember when I told you about how we went balloon chasing and had a wonderful experience taking down a hot air balloon? That was a 100% pantsing experience and we loved every minute of it.
I’m not sure what it’s called when you have an awkward balance of pantsing and planning going on, especially when you never know which one is going to work or in what combination. You’d think I’d have figured it out by now, but I guess it’s just another one of those life lessons I need to keep working on.
Are you a pantser or a planner? Share your thoughts in the comments below.